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How to Create a Bootable VMware ESXi 6.5 USB Flash Drive

This tutorial will show you how to create a bootable VMware ESXi 6.5 USB Flash drive so that you can install ESXi on systems without a CD-ROM drive.


The following steps have been tested on Windows 10 with a SanDisk Ultra Fit 16 GB USB Flash Drive*. Any 4GB or larger USB Flash drive should work but I highly recommend using a SanDisk as I’ve found it to be the best USB Flash Drive for VMware vSphere ESXi.

You will also need to download the latest version of VMware and Rufus from the following locations:

Create a Bootable VMware ESXi 6.5 USB Flash Drive

With the software downloaded and the SanDisk USB Flash Drive* inserted, follow the remaining steps to create the bootable USB Flash drive.

Open Rufus

Double click the Rufus executable and click Yes to the User Access Control dialog message.

Configure Rufus to Write VMware ISO to USB Flash

In some cases you may need to wipe the USB Flash device first which you read how to do in this tutorial.

  1. Click on the Device drop down menu and then choose the SanDisk USB Flash Drive.
  2. Click on the ISO image icon and then select the VMware ISO image that was downloaded to C:\VMware.
  3. Make sure all the other options match the image below and then click Start.

Click Yes when it asks you to Replace menu.c32

Click OK to confirm wipe of all data on the USB Flash drive.

After clicking **OK **the VMware ISO should start copying to the USB Flash Drive.

After the files have copied click Close to exit Rufus. You should now be able to browse the USB Flash drive and see all the ESXi files.

Eject the USB Flash Drive and then remove it from your device. You are now ready to use the Flash Drive to install VMware ESXi on your server. You can do this by switching your BIOS so that the SanDisk USB Flash Drive is the first to boot.